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May 30, 2006

Punta Gorda man badly injured after touching B.E.L. wires

Story PictureMeanwhile, a Punta Gorda man who received a much higher dose of voltage on Friday afternoon is slowly recovering from his ordeal at the Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan. News Five’s Jacqueline Godwin today visited his bedside and also spoke to officials at Belize Electricity Limited, who urged Belizeans to put safety first.

Jacqueline Godwin, Reporting
Four days after twenty-four year old David Bahadur was electrocuted; he is only coming to terms with the extent of his massive injuries. Today Bahadur was told there was nothing doctors could do to save his right leg. The limb was so burned that it had to be amputated. Bahadur?s upper left leg was also severely damaged that doctors had to remove most of the burned skin. His hands also suffered extensive injuries. While his face was battered after being thrown off the two story building. Bahadur says everything seems surreal as he tries to cope with the physical and emotional trauma.

David Bahadur, Victim of Electric Shock
?I no remember nothing because I just blanked out. I just the recognize now that I lose a leg. I get so much burn on my body, but according to them, I no recognize nothing.?

Bahadur was struck after an aluminium pole he had in his hands made contact with a twenty-two thousand kilovolt power line at a construction site in Punta Gorda. Bahadur says he was on top of the roof when he decided to take a break and fetch a mango he saw hanging on the tree above the house. Bahadur says he did not think his life was in danger because he did not see any high tension line.

David Bahadur
?I no even see any wire to let the pole connect, no wire. The wire was just on the tree, waiting for somebody to get hurt.?

The mango tree was dangerously close to the power line that ran near the side of the building.

David Bahadur
?The house that I was working on, the tree the right up to it. It was between the space of time that I was on the house top moving to the tree then I get hurt.?

The incident highlights a growing concern of the Belize Electricity Limited. For sometime now B.E.L. through a series of educational campaigns, has been advising the public to trim and cut trees located near power lines. On March nineteenth twenty-six year old Kennon Hernandez lost his life after the kite he was flying made contact with a high tension power line. Hernandez had used a piece of copper wire to fly the kite. B.E.L.?s Corporate Communications Manager Dawn Sampson says, the electric company does offer a service to their customers to prevent such accidents but not everyone has been calling.

Dawn Sampson, Corporate Manager, B.E.L.
?We regularly inspect our distribution and our transmission lines. We send our employees to conduct surveys and once we identify an area where trees may be too close to the power lines, we go out cut or trim the trees. That is our responsibility and we take that very serious but we also ask that the customer also support us in meeting that objective calling us. If they have a tree on their property that is too close to a power line, you know, within eighteen feet or less we ask that they call us and we will go in and cut or trim those trees free of cost but we need the public to inform us of this.?

B.E.L.?s Training and Safety Engineer Phillip Waight says, the reports are disturbing but even more alarming are the number of deaths caused by domestic incidents.

Philip Waight, Training/Safety Engineer, B.E.L.
?While people are scared and concerned about the high voltage, in Belize right now our statistics show that for the past five or six years only two deaths are related to high voltage contact. However, in the same time frame we have close to six deaths resulting from low voltage, domestic voltage, one hundred and twenty volts within the home. So you find that the carelessness and lack of respect for the low voltage resulting in more deaths at home from the low voltage than from the high voltage.?

Waight says there are a number of things families can do to make their homes more safe and the work place secured especially for construction workers.

Philip Waight
?For example, in the bathroom and all where there is water related incidents, indoor and outdoor, you use your ground fault circuit interrupter. It is an outlet that will prevent electrocution indoors, as well as outdoors. All construction sites should use a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet to prevent electrocution from occurring.?

Bahadur remains hospitalized at Western Regional in Belmopan. Today, he hopes his accident will make people be more careful and aware of their surroundings. Bahadur says he knows his life will not be normal again … and he is concerned about his future.

David Bahadur
?The only thing I hope is that I get better and just hope that I get a next leg. I just hope that everybody like same the same way. I hope I get back a job again. I hope that people realize that I really got shocked and hoping to get better.?

If you would like to assist David Bahadur you can contact his guardian Cancy Ramclam at telephone number 722 -2034. Jacqueline Godwin for News Five.

According to doctors there is a possibility that Bahadur’s right hand may also be amputated.

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